McHi senior WR Gunnar Henderson and family at the McAllen High School gym after signing his National Letter of Intent to play football for the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals in San Antonio.
Since last fall, RGV high school senior athletes have been verbally committing and signing to play college sports for teams around the country. This recruiting period, has an unofficial count of 27 Valley athletes that have either verbally committed, or signed, an offer from D-I universities and colleges.
That’s a pretty good D-I haul, and maybe one of the best in years. Although there are no records kept on this type of this kind of activity, this academic year a number of schools that are rarely seen on the RGV recruiting trail have cherry-picked kids in the region.
Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas Tech, Texas State, UTSA, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the University of the Incarnate Word all signed athletes to scholarships – UIW, UTRGV, Lamar and UTSA each with at least three. The University of Texas and Texas A&M also picked up Valley athletes.
Wednesday was the first day for NCAA Division I schools to sign athletes in football and soccer, however, more will be added this spring. And as the scholarships run out this spring and summer, walk-on opportunities will be offered. It happens every year, and RGV athletes benefit from it. 
And while the focus is on D-I athletes right now, many more area students will sign on with NCAA D-II, D-III and NAIA schools in the coming weeks and months in a number of different sports. Some are already taking place.
Several Valley athletes also signed D-I deals last fall including some with UTRGV for baseball and volleyball. UTRGV also signed Sharyland’s Kaitie Watson to a soccer scholarship this week, and McHi volleyball setter Carter Helmcamp graduated early and enrolled in Edinburg this spring.
Here’s the most comprehensive, but unofficial (surely a few are missing) list available going back to last fall of RGV athletes going D-I: Soccer 6, Football 6, Baseball 5, Cross Country 3, Softball 2, Volleyball 2, Swimming 1, Golf 1, Track & Field 1.
  1. Shaine Casas, McHi, Texas A&M, Swimming
  2. Julio Cuello, Edinburg Vela, Lamar, Football
  3. Hector DeJesus, San Benito, Texas State, Football
  4. Aaron Galvan, Edinburg Vela, UTRGV, Baseball
  5. Abanny Garcia, McHi, UTRGV, Baseball
  6. Christian Gonzalez, Brownsville Hanna, Incarnate Word, Baseball
  7. Brandon Gracia, RGC, Texas, Cross Country
  8. Noe Guerrero, Brownsville Hanna, Texas Southern, Baseball
  9. Aleythia Gutierrez, IDEA Toros, Lamar, Soccer
  10. Carter Helmcamp, McHi, UTRGV, Volleyball
  11. Gunnar Henderson, McHi, Incarnate Word, Football
  12. Johnny Howell, Shary Pioneer, Houston, Track & Field
  13. Leah Leal, Harlingen, UTSA, Soccer
  14. Richard Lefevre, Weslaco East, Incarnate Word, Football
  15. Julie Lucio, Brownsville Vets, Houston, Golf
  16. Brandon Morales, IDEA Toros, USAF Academy, Soccer
  17. Kelechi Nwachaku, McAllen Memorial, UTSA, Football
  18. Erik Pizarro, Rio Hondo, Lamar, Football
  19. Beth Ramos, Edinburg North, Texas, Cross Country
  20. Andrea Reyes, Shary Pioneer, Incarnate Word, Soccer
  21. Ediberto Reyes, Valley View, New Mexico, Baseball
  22. Naomi Reyes, Edinburg Vela, Texas Southern, Softball
  23. Audrey Smith, Shary Pioneer, Texas Tech, Volleyball
  24. Dylan Stanley, IDEA Toros, USAF Academy, Soccer
  25. Valery Tobias, Edinburg IDEA Quest, Texas, Cross Country
  26. Cassie Valdez, Brownsville Vets, UTSA, Softball
  27. Kaitie Watson, Sharyland, UTRGV, Soccer

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